The popular dietetics degree program combines clinical and managerial courses with the nutrition core to prepare students to become registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN). RDNs work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, schools, colleges, wellness programs and nursing homes as well as in public health agencies, the food industry, and research labs. Students meet the following criteria as a pathway for becoming an RDN:

1. Fulfill all academic course requirements of the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) according to the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) 2017 Standards of Education

2. Receive a Nutritional Sciences, B.S. Dietetics

3. Complete an ACEND-accredited Dietetic Internship Program

4. Pass a national exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Effective January 1, 2024, the CDR will require a minimum of a master’s degree to be eligible to take the registration examination to become an RDN. Students who complete the nutritional sciences major in the dietetics degree program receive the Bachelor of Science–Dietetics degree.

For complete program information, see the department website.

Admission to Dietetics Degree Program

Students will have PDI (Pre-Dietetics) classification until admission to the dietetics degree program (ADI classification) as defined by completion of prerequisite courses with a cumulative GPA of ≥3.000, as well as, an overall GPA of ≥3.000. Students must apply for and be admitted to the program no later than the end of the semester in which the student accumulates 86 credits, which is senior standing. Department approval is required for admission. Students who are not admitted to the program by the time they accumulate 86 credits will not be allowed to continue in the PDI classification.1

To be admitted to the B.S. dietetics program, the following requirements must be met effective fall 2015:

  1. A minimum overall cumulative GPA of 3.000. Cumulative GPA will be based on UW–Madison courses only.
  2. Students must have completed one semester at UW–Madison before applying.
  3. A minimum mean GPA of 3.000 in the following required2 prerequisite courses:
    Select one of the following:5-9
    General Chemistry I
    and General Chemistry II
    Advanced General Chemistry
    Select one of the following:5
    Animal Biology
    and Animal Biology Laboratory
    Introductory Biology
    ANAT&PHY 335 Physiology5
    NUTR SCI 332 Human Nutritional Needs3
    Select one of the following:3-4
    Introduction to Psychology
    General Microbiology
    Basic Statistics for Psychology
    Statistics for Sociologists I
    Introduction to Statistical Methods
    Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
    Professional Communication

Note: Admission to the DPD program is competitive, as enrollment is limited by accreditation standards; students meeting the minimum criteria are not guaranteed admission.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Requirements

In addition to the University General Education Requirements, all undergraduate students in CALS must satisfy a set of college and major requirements. Specific requirements for all majors in the college and other information on academic matters can be obtained from the Office of Academic Affairs, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, 116 Agricultural Hall, 1450 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-3003. Academic departments and advisors also have information on requirements. Courses may not double count within university requirements (General Education and Breadth) or within college requirements (First-Year Seminar, International Studies and Science), but courses counted toward university requirements may also be used to satisfy a college and/or a major requirement; similarly, courses counted toward college requirements may also be used to satisfy a university and/or a major requirement.

College Requirements for all CALS B.S. Degree Programs

Quality of Work: Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000 to remain in good standing and be eligible for graduation.
Residency: Students must complete 30 degree credits in residence at UW–Madison after earning 86 credits toward their undergraduate degree.
First Year Seminar1
International Studies3
Physical Science Fundamentals4-5
General Chemistry I
Chemistry in Our World
Advanced General Chemistry
Biological Science5
Additional Science (Biological, Physical, or Natural)3
Science Breadth (Biological, Physical, Natural, or Social)3
CALS Capstone Learning Experience: included in the requirements for each CALS major (see "Major Requirements")

Major Requirements

Mathematics and Statistics
Select one of the following (or may be satisfied by placement exam):3-5
Algebra and Trigonometry 1
Select one of the following:3-4
Basic Statistics for Psychology
Statistics for Sociologists I
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Select one of the following:5-9
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
Advanced General Chemistry
CHEM 341 Elementary Organic Chemistry3
or CHEM 343 Introductory Organic Chemistry
Select one of the following:3
Introduction to Human Biochemistry
Human Biochemistry
Introduction to Biochemistry
Select one of the following:5
Animal Biology
and Animal Biology Laboratory
Introductory Biology
Select one of the following: 25
General Microbiology
and General Microbiology Laboratory
Biology of Microorganisms
and Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory
ANAT&PHY 335 Physiology5
PSYCH 202 Introduction to Psychology3
GEN BUS 300 Professional Communication3-4
GEN BUS 310 Fundamentals of Accounting and Finance for Non-Business Majors3
GEN BUS 311 Fundamentals of Management and Marketing for Non-Business Majors3
Select one of the following:2-3
Methods of Teaching Family and Consumer Education
Program Planning in Family and Consumer Education
How People Learn
FOOD SCI 301 Introduction to the Science and Technology of Food3
FOOD SCI 437 Food Service Operations3
FOOD SCI 438 Food Service Operations Lab1
NUTR SCI 200 The Professions of Dietetics and Nutrition1
NUTR SCI 332 Human Nutritional Needs3
NUTR SCI 431 Nutrition in the Life Span3
BIOCHEM/NUTR SCI 510 Biochemical Principles of Human and Animal Nutrition3
NUTR SCI 631 Clinical Nutrition I3
NUTR SCI 632 Clinical Nutrition II3
NUTR SCI 500 Undergraduate Capstone Seminar Laboratory1
NUTR SCI 520 Applications in Clinical Nutrition3
Total Credits73-82

Note: recommended electives for dietetics students can be found on the Advising and Careers tab.

University Degree Requirements 

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

1. Obtains and can articulate specialized knowledge in the field of nutritional sciences and dietetics along with an education broad enough to meet the challenges of future careers and opportunities.

2. Obtains and can articulate foundational knowledge in areas relevant to the field of nutrition and dietetics.

3. Communicates complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner through both written and oral presentations.

4. Demonstrates quantitative literacy in math and statistics relevant to nutritional sciences and dietetics.

5. Demonstrates the ability to think critically and creatively, to synthesize, analyze, and integrate ideas for decision making and problem solving.

6. Develops the skills for life-­long learning and is capable of locating, interpreting, and critically evaluating professional literature and current research.

7. Develops a global perspective and an appreciation for the interdependencies among individuals and their workplaces, communities, environments, and world; and an understanding of the interrelationships between science and society.

8. Develops a respect for truth, a tolerance for diverse views, and a strong sense of personal and professional ethics.

Four-year plan

Sample Nutritional Sciences Four-Year Plan—Dietetics Degree

CHEM 1031*4CHEM 104*5
MATH 112 or 1143-5ZOOLOGY/​BIOLOGY  101 (Ethnic Studies, or International Studies)*3
ZOOLOGY/​BIOLOGY  101 (Ethnic Studies, or International Studies)*3ZOOLOGY/​BIOLOGY  102*2
Elective2First Year Seminar1
 15-17 14
Total Credits 29-31
NUTR SCI 20021NUTR SCI 332*3
MICROBIO 101 or 3033ANAT&PHY 3355
MICROBIO 102 or 3042Statistics*3-4
CHEM 34123GEN BUS 3003
 15 14-15
Total Credits 29-30
FOOD SCI 301*3NUTR SCI 43133
BIOCHEM 501 or BMOLCHEM 31453Education Techniques43
Electives6-7GEN BUS 3113
 15-16 15-16
Total Credits 30-32
FOOD SCI 43723Electives12-13
FOOD SCI 43821 
NUTR SCI 5001 
 14-15 15-16
Total Credits 29-31


Prospective and declared students should contact the student services coordinator with questions.


Registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN) work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, schools, colleges, wellness programs and nursing homes as well as in public health agencies, the food industry, and research labs. Students who fulfill the requirements of the Didactic Program in Dietetics and receive a Nutritional Sciences B.S. in Dietetics are qualified to complete a post-graduate Dietetic Internship. Upon completing the Dietetic Internship, a graduate is eligible to take the examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration leading to certification as a RDN.

Recommended Electives for Dietetics Students

ACCT I S 300 Accounting Principles3
COM ARTS 368 Theory and Practice of Persuasion3
COUN PSY 650 Theory and Practice in Interviewing3
C&E SOC/​SOC  222 Food, Culture, and Society3
FOOD SCI/​AN SCI  321 Food Laws and Regulations1
FOOD SCI/​MICROBIO  324 Food Microbiology Laboratory2
FOOD SCI/​MICROBIO  325 Food Microbiology3
FOOD SCI 410 Food Chemistry3
FOOD SCI 412 Food Analysis4
GEN&WS 103 Women and Their Bodies in Health and Disease3
KINES 314 Physiology of Exercise4
MARKETNG 300 Marketing Management3
MED HIST/​ENVIR ST  213 Global Environmental Health: An Interdisciplinary Introduction3
NURSING/​S&A PHM/​SOC WORK  105 Health Care Systems: Interdisciplinary Approach2
NURSING/​PEDIAT/​PHM PRAC/​SOC WORK  746 Interdisciplinary Care of Children with Special Health Care Needs3
NUTR SCI/​AGRONOMY/​ENTOM  203 Introduction to Global Health3
NUTR SCI/​A A E/​AGRONOMY/​INTER-AG  350 World Hunger and Malnutrition3
NUTR SCI/​KINES  525 Nutrition in Physical Activity and Health3
NUTR SCI 540 Community Nutrition Programs and Policy Issues1
NUTR SCI/​POP HLTH  621 Introduction to Nutritional Epidemiology1
NUTR SCI 635 Advanced Clinical Nutrition1
NUTR SCI/​PHM PRAC  672 Herbals, Homeopathy, and Dietary Supplements2-3
PATH 404 Pathophysiologic Principles of Human Diseases3
PHM SCI 401 Survey of Pharmacology3
POP HLTH 370 Introduction to Public Health: Local to Global Perspectives3
SOC 531 Sociology of Medicine3


Dave Eide (Chair), Ph.D. 1987

Richard Eisenstein, Ph.D. 1985

Guy Groblewski, Ph.D. 1991

Huichuan Lai, Ph.D., R.D.N. 1994

Denise Ney (Director, Didactic Program in Dietetics) , Ph.D., R.D.N. 1986

James Ntambi, Ph.D. 1985

Roger Sunde, Ph.D. 1980

Sherry Tanumihardjo, Ph.D. 1993

Associate Professor

Beth Olson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professors

Adam Kuchnia, Ph.D., R.D.N. 2017

Brian Parks, Ph.D. 2008

Eric Yen, Ph.D. 2000

ASSOCIATE Faculty Associate

Amber Haroldson, Ph.D., R.D.N., M.S.

Tara LaRowe (Coordinator, Didactic Program Dietetics), Ph.D., R.D.N.

Makayla Schuchardt, M.S., R.D.N., C.N.S.C.

Julie Thurlow, DR.PH., R.D.N.

Senior Lecturer

Pete Anderson, M.S.

Student services coordinator

Erika Anna, R.D.N.

Graduate coordinator

Katie Butzen, MS.Ed.

The following opportunities can help students connect with other students interested in dietetics and nutrition, build relationships with faculty and staff, and contribute to out-of-classroom learning:

  • Dietetics and Nutrition Club (DNC), a student organization open to anyone interested in meeting others pursuing dietetics and nutrition. Involvement in the DNC is a great way to find out about events and opportunities to network within the field of nutrition and dietetics. See the DNC Facebook page here.   
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. AND provides public information on advocacy, leadership, career development, dietetics resources, position and practice papers; student membership rates and privileges can be found here.
  • Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (WAND), Wisconsin’s chapter of AND.
  • Collegiate FFA, an official collegiate chapter of the National FFA organization.
  • AWA, the Association of Women in Agriculture, a professional student organization for young women with a passion for agriculture.
  • WISELI, Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute—a research center aiming to increase the representation, advancement, and satisfaction of women faculty and members of groups currently underrepresented on the faculty and in leadership at UW–Madison. 
  • Research/Lab experience: Students are encouraged to get involved in research, whether in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, or through other departments. Research can be performed for either course credit or pay, depending on the opportunity. Research opportunities can primarily be found by inquiring with advisors, instructors, and faculty members. Learn more about faculty research here.

Elevated Education requirements For The Future Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

The registration examination for RDNs is designed to evaluate a candidate's ability to perform at the entry-level, and currently, candidates must hold the minimum of a baccalaureate degree to take the exam. In 2013, Commission on Dietetics Registration (CDR) moved to change the entry-level registration eligibility requirements for RDNs; instead of requiring a Baccalaureate degree, the educational preparation for the future entry-level RDN is now the minimum of a master’s degree. CDR’s mandate goes into effect January 1, 2024.


Students completing dietetics coursework and a dietetic internship by January 1, 2024 will still be eligible to take the RDN exam with a baccalaureate degree.


Freshmen declaring pre-dietetics (PDI) in 2020 and beyond will be held to the new 2024 mandate, which will require students to hold the minimum of a master's degree in order to be eligible to take the RDN exam.


Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics

Accreditation status: Accredited. Next accreditation review: 2018.